How to Avoid Holiday Injuries

Oddly, though, hospital visits don't seem to peak on holidays like Christmas Day and New Year's Eve . Rather, emergency department traffic gets a significant bump after these holidays -- suggesting that many "tough it out" with holiday injuries, at least for the day.

"Before and particularly afterward, patients tend to put off problems," said Dr. Stephen Hargarten, chairman of emergency medicine at the Medical College of Wisconsin. "They want to make it through the holidays."

"Family holidays tend to be quiet; people evidently prefer to be at home with friends and family," said Dr. Cai Glushak, international medical director for Chicago-based AXA Assistance. "On the other hand, the day after a holiday is typically horrendous -- everyone who held out over a spontaneous problem comes in even sicker; people with congestive heart failure and on dialysis are often fluid overloaded and have eaten a high salt load."

"Really, we're so busy every day, these 'holiday-related entities' are somewhat of a bump in the road -- although admittedly, they affect us a little more as sentimentally sad and tragic given the holiday circumstance," Pepe added.

How To Keep Yourself Safe

Fortunately, avoiding holiday-related injuries often depends on following a few common-sense tips -- what Pepe termed "duh, duh, duh stuff."

"Don't leave home unless you really have to. Other people on the roadways are drunk and driving," he said. "Don't drink and drive yourself. If you have to go out, use designated drivers."

For those with infants and small children with a taste for anything shiny, precautions are needed to keep tinsel and glass ornaments out of reach.

"Make sure decorations and toys are safe for children," Glushak added.

Those with special needs -- dialysis patients, for example -- should head into the holidays prepared. This means getting fully dialyzed before the celebrations. And people on low-salt diets should take care not to overindulge in their favorite holiday delicacies.

Last but not least, those who plan on decorating their homes may do best to leave the dangerous stuff to the pros.

"If you really want to do high-level lighting, get someone professional -- or at least more expert -- to deal with decorating, and use better sense when going to heights," Pepe urged.

It's a tip that Rand may well take to heart this year as her family prepares to decorate once more for the holidays.

"Anything can and will go wrong this time of year," Rand says. "I would just say keep a good sense of humor -- and know who the nearest doctor is."

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